But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Everything is so quiet in the summer. No hurrying to catch the shuttle, no smiling at strangers I see every day, no waving at the nameless WPI employee who hauls trash cans in a red pickup truck. No long hours at Clark alone, wanting only to have a place to belong, to be alone. Far from desiring to escape people, I find that with a return to Seattle comes an increased isolation—if that’s possible. Listen; you can hear Ian breathing as he sleeps, curled up with one arm outstretched, worried about nothing in the world.
Do all college students feel homeless? Come back to the childhood places only to find that the rooms have that clean, faceless sheen of a guest bedroom? Growing-up memories have conveniently slipped into cardboard Xerox boxes that parents tuck away under the eaves of the house or in disused closets. Privacy vanishes because the family’s adjusted to your absence and now thinks of your room as a common area. They wander in and out, looking for a CD or a game, cleaning what ought to remain messy, never thinking that this fragile space represents the only home open to us. We borrow or buy cars, paying for them with jobs we hate or love but only hold for three months, if we’re lucky; the unlucky ones squander their time in video games and books, hiding from the reality of meaninglessness an empty summer represents. Parents waver between offering parental advice to their children and friendly advice to a young adult. Siblings accept the intrusion of long-absent siblings with equanimity, adapting to the change by ignoring. College friends slip into the skin of their home-lives with discomfort or ease, but either way do so to leave behind for a time the responsibilities of college friendships.
I never thought I’d say it, not when I was in high school, but now I do: I wish I could end the summer now. Get back to WPI and find my place there to see if I can survive their terms, if my credits from Clark transferred, get the paperwork for my IQP filled out and formalized, turn in forms at Clark and WPI and resume the only life I’m good at: the academic life. I can study and I can prize A’s from stingy professors’ hands. I can sit and listen, read assignments, write papers, complete labs; I cannot sell myself to McDonald’s/Blockbuster/Safeway for a job, convince a temp-agency worker that I’m useful, or summon courage to be “successful” in the working world. And so, summer—please end quickly, pass swiftly so I can stop flopping desperately on this dry, dry stream-bank when I can swim arrow-swift through water.
– KF –